What's Happening at UA Occupational Health

Occupational Health Clinic celebrates First Year Anniversary!! January 22, 2020


Occupational Health Working Group Meeting - 4/29/19

Jim Metras, OH Program Manager, opened the meeting by introducing the OH staff.  He discussed Occupational Health’s historical journey at UA, and mentioned that the goal going forward was to have the OH Program be mutually beneficial to all employees at the university, and not solely those in the research programs.  He shared OH’s Strategic Plan overview, and that although the clinic has only been open since January, the accomplishments have been many; with that, there are many more opportunities for expansion of the program.  He also took a few moments to thank those in the room who have been so supportive of the program:  IACUC, Campus Health, Banner Occupational Health Services, Animal Hazards Program and Research communities, Risk Management and RLSS. 

He then turned the discussion to an open Q/A:

  • Someone asked about record keeping – would the old records be lost from the database?

No.  OH is in process of acquiring new EMR (electronic medical record) system, we are purchasing PnC (Point and Click) – same as what has been used through Campus Health.  So the OH records from Campus Health will be transferred to new system.  There will be two separate systems (CHS and OH), but there is an agreement in place that if a record is missed in the transfer process, OH will be able to ask for it.  OH will continue to use the Medical Surveillance Database as long as we possibly can – currently in the process of having it transferred to RLSS’ (computer) servers.  OH has purchased an audiometry system, so there will be a database for the Hearing Conservation Program.

  • Someone asked about AHP mandatory requirements versus best practices – will this group be making this kind of decisions; who will be making these decisions?

No.  Purpose of this group is to ask the bigger questions of “What is needed with this Occupational Health Program”.  Discussion was held regarding university’s position of nothing is mandatory unless it is a condition of employment.  Jim shared that part of OH vision is to do some sort of pre-screening before employment, but also expressed that with current departmental structure of university, this is a big challenge for OH.  It was shared with the group that President Robbins has challenged the university at large to improve the culture and conditions for all employees.  The group agreed it would be good to have HR representation present at future meetings.

  • Dr Walsh (OH Medical Director) then shared her vision of this group:

It will be a Discussion Group of individuals who would encompass the university’s global community.  The group would communicate and have an overview vision of Occupational Health at the university.  If there were specific needs identified during the discussions, then those topics would branch off into specific meetings to be worked on separately from the Discussion Group.  She shared that it was the goal of both OH and Senior Leadership to develop a good program based on good decisions.  Therefore, input was very important to the success of the program, as well as this would be a listening session among partners who have come together to help determine and provide the best service to university. 

  • Jimmy Spencer (Bio-Safety Officer, RLSS) shared that one of the RMS/RLSS Strategic Plan Work Groups was “Welcome Wagon” – in that, to try and capture upon hire training needs, surveillance needs, protocol needs, and OH needs at the start of employee’s employment (instead of trying to catch employee months later).  Again mentioned that HR needed to be part of this discussion.  Questions asked: is there an onboarding checklist that would cover specific needs for each at-risk department/job?  Can this be implemented by a Job Code Identifier?  The group quickly identified the challenge with the university in that most departments have their own HR staff, and this would encompass multiple conversations to cover each individual department’s needs. 
  • A concern was raised with the recent outbreak of Measles nationwide – how does the UA handle this?  Is it a concern for OH?  Does OH have an employee list for those who are at risk without the proper vaccines?   Is this something that OH needs to look at doing in the future?
  • Someone asked about group updates – how and was this going to be done?

OH shared that a “News” page would be launched on the website, and that minutes from each meeting would be posted there. 

  • Stephanie Griffith (UA Department of Public Health) shared with the group some of her experience as Industrial Hygienist and in Occupational Health field.  She asked if a “Needs Assessment Document” would be created; that this would help identify the ‘known versus unknown’ in developing a comprehensive program.  She offered to help in any way that she could, as well as suggested that there was a large resource of student labor that could help also. 
  • Jim shared that the current plan was a systematic development of OH Program.  That OH is careful to not rush to do something, but as the word gets out that the Clinic is open, OH is hearing from people we never knew existed before.  “We want to help everyone we can, but it takes time and resources and we are being cautious while we build the program.”
  • Question asked:  How to Identify Gaps?

That is main purpose of this Working Group.  What are outlying group’s needs?  Invite a friend to the next meeting.  Have them be a voice to what their needs are.  If OH doesn’t know, then help or assistance cannot be offered.  Dr. Walsh shared that she researches other OH programs to see what forms they use, and what programs they have within their OH or EHS (Environmental Health & Safety) Programs. 

  • Ken Kerns (Sr. Director, RLSS & OH) shared that it is his goal to have the #1 safety program in PAC12.  This would encompass Risk Management, RLSS and Occupational Health.  Steve Holland (Chief Risk Officer, RMS) shared that Safety went hand-in-hand with Compliance.   The group agreed that compliance was the foundation, and something that UA tended to overlook in the daily operations.  Creating that baseline (compliance/safety) and not create more work and not lose functionality are philosophically big issues to resolve, but they impact Occupational Health. 
  • Discussion was held regarding acute work-injuries versus surveillance/exposure.  Who is taking care of what, and what is the process for assisting an employee in need?  Dr. Walsh clarified that OH cannot treat work-related accidents and/or work-injuries at this time unless it was specific exposures related to lab. CORVEL information was shared with the group – and where to find the information (RMS website, OH website under programs).  Anna Llamas (Program Coordinator, RMS) was asked to draft statement regarding CORVEL process and acute injuries.  **UPDATE** See CORVEL Process here: